New Delhi, May 12: India’s greatest Olympian Abhinav Bindra on Wednesday said that he had encountered mental health issues right after winning the gold medal at the Beijing Games in 2008.
Bindra won the 10m air rifle event at Beijing to become the only Indian to win an individual gold in the Olympics, but just after that moment of celebration, he felt a “void”. He also said he wanted to quit shooting after 2008 gold winning feat.
Asked whether he faced mental health issues, Bindra said: “I had a long career in sport, had many ups and downs. It’s ironic my biggest mental crisis in life came when I actually succeeded. A lot of people talked about dealing with failure, bur for me, dealing with success was probably the hardest time in my life.”
Explaining further, the 38-year-old celebrated shooter said, “Up until Beijing where I had my greatest victory, I had trained for 16 years of life with a singular goal and singular obsession that I wanted to win a gold medal at Olympics.
“One fine day, this dream, the goal was achieved but it created a very large void in my life. I think to me that was very challenging. I was depressed and was lost. I did not know what to do with my life and what to do next. That was probably the toughest moment of my life.”
Asked what he actually felt, Bindra said, “My energies were depleted. It took a lot out of me to win. But more than anything, when you are goalless, you are listless in your life.”
“The beauty of having goals in life is that it drives you and when that is lost you lose a lot of meaning in life. Sometimes we get lured by an equation that gold medal equals happiness. That is false and we need to reverse that equation and make it as happiness equals gold medal.”
He said he sought professional help and for him seeking help was never a “stigma”.
“Post my victory in Beijing, I actually wanted to quit sport and move on to something else in life. I decided that I will go on a 10-day silent retreat where I wanted to just find myself,” said Bindra.
Asked about his decision to retire, Bindra said: “I was at peace with my decision. I left my sport when I knew I had nothing more to give. From that day to this particular day, I have never gotten back to the shooting range.” (PTI)